University of Twente’s Department of Science, Technology and Policy Studies ( invites applications for a postdoc position and three PhD positions, all in the area of nanotechnology and society. The positions are part of the national-level NanoNextNLprogram, which has a subprogram on anticipation on embedding of nanotechnology in society. For a brief description see below, for more detail see here or the announcement at the University’s website ( If you are interested, please send your application before March 3, 2011.

Brief descriptions of the positions:

Post-doctoral position: Socio-technical scenarios and strategy articulation for key application areas of micro-/nanotechnology

(full-time for the duration of 18 months)

While the shape of nanotechnology applications and their eventual effects on society and economy are uncertain, controlled speculation about applications and impacts is possible with the help of socio-technical scenarios (see the results of the TA NanoNed program in the predecessor of the NanoNextNL program, Socio-technical scenarios as a constructive technology assessment approach build on insights from science, technology and innovation studies and on stakeholder knowledge. The postdoc will develop scenarios and organize stakeholder workshops aimed at articulation of strategic implications and potential impacts for areas of nanotechnology worked on in NanoNextNL. The project will be conducted in cooperation with a parallel project at the University of Utrecht.

PhD position: The co-evolution of sectoral structures and nanotechnologies

(full-time for the duration of 4 years)

Nanotechnology is often presented as a breakthrough technology that may profoundly change sectoral and industry structures. However, to what extent this will happen and what may be the specific implications for certain sectors and industries is unclear. At the same time, current structures provide important context conditions for nanotechnology-enabled innovations, which may be more or less conducive for nanotechnologies in general and for specific directions. The PhD student will investigate these questions for selected cases by means of qualitative and, where appropriate, quantitative approaches. On the basis of the analysis, possible broader economic and societal impacts and strategic implications will be estimated.

PhD position: Practices, institutionalization and impact of responsible innovation in nanotechnology

(full-time for the duration of 4 years)

The notion of ‘responsible innovation’ or ‘responsible development’ has become widespread concern in the context of emerging nanotechnologies, especially in policy discourse. There are instances of responsible development already, like the formulation of codes of conduct, the setting-up of public engagement processes, willingness of firms and laboratories to be transparent. Actual practices of ‘doing responsible development’ may spread and stabilize, i.e. become institutionalized, or turn out to be merely transitory phenomena. The PhD student will investigate to what extent and how responsible development has evolved from a rhetorical practice to more substantial practices related to research, development and production and to what extent and how this affects ongoing innovation processes. Furthermore, s/he will inquire, if, how and where certain practices become institutionalized at different levels. This may work out differently for different sectors and/or national contexts.

PhD position: Governance of promises and risks in nanotechnology

(full-time for the duration of 4 years)

While nanotechnology is full with far-reaching promises mobilizing researchers, funding agencies and innovation actors, concerns about potential risks emerged as well. Promises and risk concerns are forms of expectation-building, and both are shaped and coordinated in societal discourses and in dedicated forms of systematic expectation-building as foresight and technology assessment. These diverging forms of expectation-building can also be described as different modes of governing promises and risks. How exactly the different forms of expectation-building and coordination as part of societal discourses, foresight and technology assessment programmes have evolved, how they interact and how they affect the development of nanotechnology is the topic of this PhD project. The PhD student will also examine how various innovation actors from research, industry and policy have been affected by different modes of expectation-building and how they contribute to their further evolution.

PhD position (LEGS Department): Challenges and opportunities of ‘soft’ nano-regulation

(full time for the duration of 3 years)

To date, nanotechnologies have been regulated specifically only by various instruments of ‘soft’ regulation (such as codes of conduct, self-reporting schemes, standardization, bench marks). These regulatory tools are not legally binding, but can have nevertheless important effects in regulatory practice. It is not clear, however, whether and how ‘soft’ nano-regulation can contribute to responsible nanotechnological development. The PhD student will explore the effectiveness of examples of soft nano-regulation (case studies). She/he will analyze effectiveness problems in the context of emerging governance structures and existing governance arrangements. To explore the opportunities of effective soft nano-regulation lessons from other examples of (technology) regulation will be evaluated.

Vacancies at the University of Twente / department STePS can be found here.